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234                                    VHKDICT OX INDIA

55 ptT cent and 35 per cent, compared with. 12-^ per cent for
British India. YTe shall be touching on the edmational problems
in a later section, but for the moment we may note that the
prowess of Travancorc and Cochin is again explained by excep-
tional circumstances. Partly because both these States are the
most orthodox in India and contain an enormous proportion of
Brclimins. ar»d partly bcecuso r scries of historical accidents has
implanted in them a very higli percentage of missionaries, Travan-
core and Cochin have always been far ahead of the rest of India in
literacy, long before education was serious tackled in India—or,
for that matter, in England itself.

Literacy figures, in India, can be made to prove anything or
nothing, according to the personal bias of the commentator.
Jlost of the writer,, who quote them do so without the smallest
attempt to acquaint themselves with the historical and geographi-
cal background against which the figures are set. They lift up
their hands in horror at the backwardness of Orissa. which has
the lowest standard in India, apparently unaware that this State
is largely composed of impassable jungle inhabited by aboriginals.,
They talk of the illiteracy of cBombay' as though only the city
were concerned, whereas the figures are taken for the whole
province, which contains a bewildering assortment of tribes and
languages living in districts which arc inaccessible by any modern
form of transport.

What of the future ?
Presumably, in the course of time, the States will either have to
go or to effect such considerable modifications in their institutions
that their functions will be practical rather than picturesque. On
the whole, it is probably desirable that they should go, if only for
economic reasons. They form a series of artificial barriers to the
free development of commerce, and they represent a large reser-
voir of wealth which should be more profitably employed. It is
ludicrous, for example, that the Nizam of Hyderabad should be
allowed to sit, like an immovable idol, on a mountain of gold that
is never put into circulation- Men of wealth so fabulous should